Jamie Gatlin | April 27th, 2020
When the MLB season does begin, the Boston Red Sox will have a new opening day starter for the first time since 2017. Over the past two years, that honor has fallen to Chris Sale, however, he will miss all of the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery. Due to Sale’s absence, Eduardo Rodriguez will most likely be named the opening day starter. The former top prospect is coming off a career year and will now have even higher expectations.
Before last season Rodriguez had been plagued by injuries. He had never made more than 24 starts in a season or pitched more than 137 innings in a season. Despite his talent, the left-hander struggled mostly due to command issues. Last season, however, Rodriguez finally fulfilled his lofty expectations.
Although the 2019 season was one of the Red Sox most disappointing in recent years, Rodriguez had a breakout campaign. The Venezuelan native led the majors in starts with 34 and Red Sox in wins with 19. Although Rodriguez allowed a league-high 75 walks, he struck out 213 batters.
Additionally, for the first time in Rodriguez’s career, he passed the 200 innings mark. He also ended the season with a 3.81 ERA, which is the lowest total of his career. The young left-hander’s superb season put him in elite status as Rodriguez finished sixth in the AL Cy Young Race.
Starting off Right
While Spring Training was cut short due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Rodriguez was seemingly building on his career year. In 11 innings of work, the 27-year-old had 20 strikeouts. He had only allowed two earned runs and one home run. In three starts, Rodriguez had an ERA of 1.64 and only walked one batter.
In 2020 the Red Sox rotation will look dramatically different with no Chris Sale and the departures of David Price and Rick Porcello. Other than Rodriguez the Red Sox rotation is expected to include Nathan Eovaldi, who battled injuries in 2019 and free-agent acquisition Martin Perez.
The New Ace
The Red Sox offense is again expected to be a strength, but their pitching is full of question marks. The Red Sox do not have a lot of room for failure as their minor system was ranked as the 25th best in baseball.
As the Red Sox look to rebound from last season, Rodriguez will play a big part in how successful this team is. He will not only set the tone but also be relied on to eat up innings, so the Red Sox bullpen is not overused. Coming off of a career year, however, Rodriguez is ready for his new role.
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